2018 Scouting Glossary

Scouting Glossary
Draft Insiders’ Digest – 27th Season
Publication and Web Site – Frank Coyle

“The NFL Draft Publication Pro Scouts Buy”

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Scouting Glossary:

Agility vs. Speed Numbers – Take the 40 yard time of player and subtract .05 and that is what his short shuttle should be. If it is slower, then he is faster than quick. If it is faster, then he is quicker than fast.

Alley – Hole to run through, usually with blocks not only at the line, but also at the second level.

Anchor – Used to describe a lineman’s ability to stand and hold his ground and not be moved.

Arm/Hand punch – A skill used by offensive lineman to get into a defender with his hands and stop their charge.

Back shoulder – the shoulder of a closely-covered receiver that is farthest from the defender covering him

Back side – the side of the center away from which the ball carrier is going; also called “off” side

Bail – movement a cover defender aligns as if to bump a receiver then quickly drops back when the snap occurs

Balance – ball carrier ability to resist getting knocked down when hit by a would-be tackler

Balanced line – offensive line with a guard and tackle on each side of the center

Ball control – play calling designed to get a first down rather than a bigger gain

Ball hawk – A defender who has a knack for disrupting passes. This type of defensive player has outstanding instincts in the passing game, leading to interceptions and pass breakups.

Base block – offensive line block in which the blocker pushes the nearest defender away from the point of attack. Usually in bubble dive, bubble lead and power plays where the C gap is not occupied by a defender

Base defense – defensive alignment used most often by a team; may also have a personnel dimension to it; often used when the offense has 1st & 10. Other defenses are typically defined by the coach in question as modifications of the base defense; an offense that operates at a hurry-up tempo typically hears the opposing coaches and linebackers yelling “Base! Base!” because they do not have time to call a different defense between plays.

Bend and burst – A pass rusher’s ability to turn the corner on a speed rush by maintaining balance and body control.
Bird dogging – A QB’s tendency to lock on one primary receiver, tipping off savvy defenders.

Blast (Iso play – Isolation) – Inside running play where the ball carrier follows the fullback, who blocks the middle linebacker one on one.

Blind side – QB’s non-throwing-arm side; when set to pass, he faces the sideline on his passing-arm side and has his back to the other side preventing him from seeing a rusher coming from that direction. In the NFL, the offensive tackle who plays on a QB’s blind side is considered extra critical during pass plays.

Blitz – This occurs when a defender other than a DL rushes the passer. The concept is generally to outnumber the blockers the offense leaves in to protect the QB. The element of surprise and mismatches are crucial.

Zone Blitz – This occurs when a non-DL rushes the passer and a DL drops back into coverage and the defense plays zone pass coverage. Popular today in the NFL.

In-Line Blocker – When a player, generally a TE, is better at blocking players right at the LOS rather
than in space. Generally, these type players are bigger and do better when the block requires more
strength than agility.
One Gap – Defensive system where DL attack off the ball and cover a single gap.
Two Gap – Defensive system where interior DL are each responsible for two gaps. Requires bigger,
stronger players.

Blocking in Space – This is when an offensive player has to go after a defender, usually a OLB or DB, in space. It requires the offensive player to be more mobile and also to be able to hit a moving target. It requires a blocker to move fluidly and maintain contact and body control.

Block tackle – poor tackling technique, i.e., not wrapping the arms around the ball carrier, rather, trying to knock the ball carrier down with nothing but a shoulder block

Body catcher – A receiver that catches the ball in his body rather than snatching it with his hands. Body catching can lead to deflected balls and consistent dropped passes.

Body Lean – Standard ball carrier position, pitched slightly forward, shoulder pads centered above knees. Proper body lean keeps the pad level low and momentum moving forward.

Boundary – the side of the offensive formation where the distance from the ball (before the snap) to the sideline is shortest, as in “the X will always align to the boundary when we are in this formation;” also known as the short side.

Break Down – the ease in which a player gets into the proper playing position, knee bend, wide base etc.

Bubble – refers to the yards between the first and second levels of the defense.

Bubble screen – screen-pass play in which an offensive player initially aligned in the offensive backfield, including a wing or a tight end, immediately runs outward while a screen of blockers is formed by wider receivers

Buck – old-time word for a running back running straight into the line; now called a dive play.

Bucket step – first step of an offensive lineman or back in which he steps at about 4 o’clock or 8 o’clock. The purpose is to begin moving toward the sideline; backward angle is to clear away from an adjacent player in the case of a lineman or for timing purposes in the case of a back. Same as kick step.

Bull Rush – straight ahead, power rush.

Bump and Run – pass coverage technique in which the defender aligns on the inside shoulder of the receiver and immediately strikes him when he first moves. Designed to prevent or delay the release of the receiver on a pass route. Also called press, tight coverage, or bump and run.

C – the gap between the offensive tackle and tight end. Letter used to designate a cornerback in a diagram of a defense. Abbreviation for center.

Catch-tackler – A defender who does not strike through a ball carrier when tackling. A defensive player who accepts contact rather than delivering it.

COD – Change of direction

Check release/ route – running-back pass route that is run only after checking to make sure the back’s pass-blocking responsibility is not blitzing

Chip – similar to brush block only with more force and slightly more duration.

Choice route – pass route in which the receiver decides whether to break north, south, east, or west depending upon the initial movement of the defender closest to him. The QB sees the same defender movement and anticipates correctly which way the receiver will break and throws to him. Called sight adjustment.

Chuck – momentary hit designed to temporarily delay a player from going where he wants to go.

Clearing route – a pass route that is designed to clear an area of the defense.

Climbing the pocket – A QB’s ability to step up in the pocket while under pressure from outside rushers.

Cloud – zone pass coverage in which corners cover passes to the flat. Both cornerback and cloud start with the letter C. Opposite of “sky” coverage, also called “invert”.

Cloud Coverage – corner support coverage. It’s when you high-low the #1 receiver.

Comeback – pass route in which the receiver breaks back toward the line of scrimmage, usually to the outside.

Combination Block – Block on one defender carried out in unison by two offensive linemen.

Contain – each side of all defenses has a player assigned contain responsibilities. That means he is not to allow a blocker or ball carrier from the inside to get outside of him. Usually done by a lineman in a two-point stance or by a linebacker or defensive back at higher levels.

Contain rush – outside-in pass rush by a contain man to prevent the QB from scrambling or dashing out to his side. Contain pass rusher must take a slightly circuitous route to the passer so he comes in from the side, not from the QB’s front. Sound defenses have a player on each side assigned this responsibility

Cornerback – defensive back who covers pass zones on the outer edges of the field or who covers quick receivers who align at the outer edge of the offensive formation. In some defenses, a corner from one side will go over to the other side and cover a slot back.

Corner over – a defensive-alignment rule which has a cornerback go to the other side of the field to cover a slot receiver when there is no wide receiver on his side of the field.

Coverage – either the defensive backs and linebackers or the scheme in which they are utilized.

Cover 0 – pass defense in which all pass defenders are in man coverage. Required when six defenders are rushing.
Cover 1 – pass defense in which all pass defenders but one are in man coverage. The one not in man coverage is usually a free safety who plays a zone defense in which his zone is the entire field. Required when five defenders are rushing; also called “man free” or “man under”.

Cover 2 – zone pass defense with two deep safeties who are responsible for the two deep halves of the field

Cover 3 – zone pass defense where the field is divided into three deep zones which are covered by the free safety (middle) and two corners (sides)

Cover 4 – zone pass defense where the field is divided into four deep zones which are covered by the two safeties (middle) and two corners (sides). Often called “quarters”.

Cover 5 – same as nickel defense

Coverage recognition – offensive drill in which the receivers and quarterbacks practice recognizing the pass coverages (i.e., man, zone, or combination) of the defense and adjusting appropriately to them.

Coverage sack – sack of the QB that takes happens after about 3 seconds after the snap. Caused by inability of the passer to find an open receiver because of excellent pass coverage on the receivers.

Counter – offensive misdirection play involving several steps by the ball carrier and possibly other backs away from the actual point of attack, before he changes direction to go toward the actual point of attack, often involves a pulling lineman who either pulls or executes a trap block. Usually attacks the C gap with the counter trey is one of the most famous plays of this type.

Crab – blocking technique in which the blocker gets down on all fours and shoves the defender sideways with his ribs by shuffling all four limbs in that direction. Only legal in the free-blocking zone

Crackback block – inward block by an offensive player who initially aligned out wide on a defender who initially lined up in the box. Illegal if below the waist. Blocker must take care to avoid blocking the defender in the back

Cross block – two-person block in which the outer offensive lineman blocks inward on the first defensive lineman to his inside while the inner offensive lineman next to him allows the outer offensive lineman to pass, then blocks outward on the first defensive lineman to his outside. The outer offensive lineman always goes first because he is blocking the innermost and therefore most-dangerous-to-the-early-phase-of-the-play defensive lineman. Typically used to block at the point of attack in a strong-side power play or a weak-side B gap lead play.

Crossover step – a lateral step in which the player steps with the foot away from the direction he is going; sometimes used by offensive backs for maximum distance and speed on their first step or to begin a sequence of steps which requires them to cut a particular direction on a particular step. Opposite of open step. Not recommended for players who are near opposing players or for backers reacting to flow.

Curl – deeper version of a hook

Cushion – vertical distance between the receiver and the defender who is covering him. A tight cushion indicates that a fade route or other deep route has an increased probability of success while a large cushion suggests an underneath pass like a hitch, comeback, or slant would work.

Cutback – change of direction by ball carrier when he goes to one side of the center then changes direction heading toward the other side of the center. In some plays gets linebackers moving fast toward initial flow of the offensive backfield. Wide-pursuit assignments must include at least one defender who is responsible for stopping a cutback. Word is often accompanied with “against the grain”.

Cut Block – Block thrown below the knees. Illegal starting in 2016 season
Delayed release – departure of a pass receiver on a route after blocking, typically for a one-or two-count. Purpose is to get the defender responsible for covering the receiver or zone in question to conclude the receiver is not going to run a route on this play and abandon covering him or the zone in which the route will take place. Receivers generally need to be disciplined to get them to wait the required amount of time before releasing. Generally important part of a counter boot play.

Diamond – old defensive formation the full name of which was seven-diamond. It had seven defensive linemen and four guys behind them arrayed in the shape of a diamond, that is, one guy shallow, two guys at medium depth and one guy deep. Mainly unsound,

Dig – shallow or intermediate depth cross route.

Dime back/ package – defensive back substituted into a game in a passing situation to replace a linebacker thereby resulting in a defense with six rather than the five defensive backs of a nickel package.

Double coverage – pass coverage in which two pass defenders cover one receiver.

Double slot – one-back, balanced, offensive formation with no tight ends, two split ends, two slot backs, and a single running back aligned behind the QB and center. This can screw up modern defenses that are used to and designed for a pro set.

Double team – block or pass coverage of one guy by two guys. The double-team block requires a particular technique, not just the addition of a second guy.

Down Block – block thrown from the outside inward across a defender’s feet to cut off his pursuit angle, as opposed to a straight ahead block.

Downhill – Back with good body lean who attacks the line of scrimmage quickly. In coaching, it is the course that attacks the line of scrimmage hard, as opposed to course in which the ball carrier reads the defense or waits for blocks.

Drag – shallow pass route in front of and across the middle of the offensive formation. Often combined with a delayed release by the receiver.

Draw – running play in which a QB drops back as if to pass then suddenly gives the ball to a running back standing next to him or runs with it himself. If a fake run followed by a pass is a “play-action pass” then the draw could be called a “pass-action play”.

Drive block – one offensive player trying to push one defensive player away from the offensive point of attack.

Drop – QB’s initial steps on a drop-back pass play. Always an odd number – common drops are 1-step and 3-step at all levels and 5- at the HS and higher levels and 7- and 9 at the college and pro levels.

Drop Step – An initial short backward step used on many inside runs, drop stepping with the foot opposite the direction of the play gets the ball carrier into better position to quickly attack the line of scrimmage.

East-west – parallel to the yard lines. Toward the sidelines; ball carriers should generally avoid running east-west unless they are much faster than anyone on the defense.

Edge rusher – outside pass rusher who rushes on the edge of the offensive line.

Eight-man front – a defensive formation that has eight defenders in the box. Typically a 4-4 or 5-3. The word “front” does not mean the line. It means both the line and the linebackers.

Empty – an offensive backfield with no running backs other than the quarterback behind the offensive interior line, also called “no back”.
Explosive – Different things to different positions. You want DL to have explosive quickness. You want
WR/DBs to be explosive in and out of cuts. You want LBs to be explosive hitters. Usually a combination
of quickness and power that allows the player gain a fast advantage.

Explosive Index Workout Numbers – Add the Broad Jump, Vertical Jump and Bench Press and if the
number is 70 or more, that is a good explosive number.

Finish the run – correct ball-carrier technique in which a ball carrier who no longer has any daylight to which to run lowers his shoulder and explodes into defenders to gain a few more yards before he is tackled.

Fire – code word that tells scrimmage-kick (punt or field goal) team players that there has been a bad snap or muffed snap. Designated players then run pass routes so the ball carrier can pass to them. Defensive play call word for blitz as in “Mike fire” means to blitz the Mike linebacker.

Fit Position – Proper blocking stance is: Head up, butt down, knees bent, legs spaced, and back flat. This is a must for Fullbacks and Pass Blockers.

Five Technique – defensive lineman that aligns with his nose on the outside shade of an offensive tackle with greater responsibility to stop the run than rush the passer. An ideal 5-technique is in the 6-4, 280 lb. range with 4.9 speed.

Flag route – pass route now called a corner route, the original name stems from the fact that the corners of the end zone were marked by springs that had a flag on them. These have been replaced by day-glo pylons for safety reasons.

Flanker – a wide receiver who aligns one yard off the line of scrimmage on the strong side of the offensive formation, because he is off the line. Permitted to go in pre-snap motion and can be facing any direction at the snap.

Flattens Out – a defender who turns in on the QB.

Flow – Two backs moving in the same direction at the snap.

Fluid in the Hips – player can turn his body with a fluid motion, usually reflects a defender turning back to defend a pass.

Fly – run full speed usually to the ball after a play has been diagnosed by the defense. Pass route that goes straight up the field and is also called a streak or go route.

Forklift – A pass-rushing maneuver in which the defender uses both hands to drive a blocker back into the QB’s lap.

Front – a number of defenders in the box; many mistakenly think it refers only to the front line of the defense. It refers to both the front line and the linebackers.

Freeze – Hesitation for one beat at the snap. It is a technique used in some option offenses and on draw plays, as defenders mistakenly think the ball carrier is preparing to pass block.

Funnell – Hole on sweep or pitch created by a blocking cornerback toward the sideline while pinning other defenders inside.

FF – Forced fumble

FR – Fumble recovery

Gathers – means when a player slows down in order to read himself, usually to change directions.
Gets through trash – A positive trait where a defender is able to sort through a group of players to get to the ball and make the tackle. Demonstrates instincts, agility and awareness.

Gets down the LOS – DL must pursue the football on plays away from them. One part of this is chasing plays down the line of scrimmage. A fast or quick DL can get in on plays away from him and still come up with a TFL if they take good angles and use initial quickness.

Gunner – wide defenders on NFL punt team assigned to immediately go to the punt returner on the snap. Under NFL rules, only two players may go downfield before the ball is punted with receiving teams generally assigning one or two defenders to prevent each gunner from leaving as soon.

Halves – pass coverage scheme in which each safety has to cover half of the field.

Hands Catcher – A receiver will reach out and catch the ball away from his body.

Hat Level – Term referring to how low a ball carrier keeps his helmet to maintain leverage and give defenders a smaller target. It includes running with knees bent, feet properly spread (shoulder width) and good body lead. Ideally, the ballcarrier should keep his helmet about 60 inches from the ground.

Height/Weight – A player listed at 6045, 232 is 6’4 5/8 and 232 lbs. Players height is measured in 8ths of an inch. 5110 is just 5’11. 5113 is 5’11 3/8. We round up and down.

High Cut – High waisted, having long legs and a short upper body.

High motor – Exceptional effort and energy. Relentlessness.

Highest point – altitude at which a receiver or pass defender ought to catch a pass when an opposing player is in the vicinity. The phrase is used by coaches to teach players that when they are not alone, it is a “jump ball” situation and must make sure they out jump the opposing player.

Hitch – pass route in which the receiver runs straight upfield at full speed as if going deep then stops and comes back toward the QB to catch a pass that was thrown before he stopped. Typical hitch pass would have the receiver take five steps then come back while the passer was doing a three-step drop and throwing on time on the third step. Best when the defense is giving the receiver a large cushion.

Hook – pass route in which the receiver goes straight downfield around five steps then abruptly comes back toward the passer.

Hook Block – action of an offensive lineman positioning himself in front of a defender and preventing him from getting outside, often done by a tight end on an outside linebacker. Also called a seal block.

Hook and lateral – offensive trick play in which a receiver runs a hook pattern and after catching the ball, laterals it to a teammate who is running around him to the outside. Also called a flea flicker.

Hot route – a pass route run by a receiver as a result of a designated defender rushing the passer; because no offensive player is assigned to block that rusher. Passer must throw “hot,” that is, very quickly to a receiver who runs a replacement route to the spot the rusher vacated thereby sitting in the opening, replacing the defender there.

Hugging the Double Team – Maneuver in which ballcarrier stays close to double-team block to get into optimal position to find the hole and run to daylight.

INT – Interception

Inside-out pursuit – one or two defenders must be assigned to stop cutbacks by ball carriers. They stay a yard or so inside a ball carrier who is running wide. Usually done by linebackers.

Inside trap – misdirection offensive play like a counter only the misdirection usually involves only one or two steps and the point of attack is usually the A or B gap. Outside of hole is blocked with a trap block and especially effective against an overly hard charging defensive lineman.

Iso – short for isolation play, same as lead play.

Jab Step – Hard step at the start of a play in opposite direction to what the ballcarrier will run. Used to freeze defenders keying on the running back, allowing blockers to get into better position. Often the first step in a counter play.

JAG – An unflattering term used to describe a fringe player – as in “just another guy”.

Jump Cut – Sudden cutback in the openfield. Ballcarrier hops sideways to avoid the defender but must stay low to avoid losing leverage and exposing ball.

Kick-out block – fullback off-tackle block that blocks the defender outward. Correct response by defender is to attack the fullback’s outside jersey number with his inside shoulder.

Kick step – same as bucket step.

Kick and slide – The technique used by offensive tackles in which they kick step and shuffle to stay in front of a pass rusher.

Knee Action – Running style that requires pumping knees to generate power. Most effective when running through the line of scrimmage.

Knee bender – A player who bends his knees rather than his waist; a positive characteristic, especially for offensive lineman.

Landmark – It is the Location the ballcarrier must reach before setting course upfield. The landmark could be a block (Key off OG/OT double team) or a point on line of scrimmage (Aim for outside hip of the TE).

Lead – offensive play in which a fullback goes through a bubble to block a linebacker followed by a ball carrier. Also called an isolation, iso, or blast play. Used to describe a type of option play in which an offensive back goes around the end ahead of the ball carrier to block for him.

Lead option – speed-option play in which the pitchback has a lead blocker.

Leverage player – stays low to the ground to get under an opponent’s pads.

Linebackers – teaching LB’s in 3-4 defense. It is best to teach all the LB’s on your team (vets as well as rookies) the ILB position first before moving them to outside. This teaches them all the run fits and is the best way to teach a defense. In addition, it allows you to cross train and see who can play ILB or not in the event of injury.

Light in the pants – A player that is considered undersized in the lower body. Not strong or powerful enough to get movement.

Long Striders – takes long steps instead of short, quick steps and moves slower in and out of his breaks but usually good long/vertical speed.

Look-in – a slant pass route with no stem. Receiver runs inside at a 45-degree angle starting on his first step after the snap

Loop – defensive stunt in which a linebacker blitzes through a gap that is one or two gaps away from where he was aligned before the snap

LOS – Line of Scrimmage

Loses in Transition – usually a defensive back who loses space and speed as he turns back to the ball.

Low burn – A player that exhibits little, if any, emotion. Displays a lack of intensity.

Man – type of blocking or pass coverage. In man blocking, the offensive player is assigned to block a particular defender by position and he must block that defender no matter what path the defender takes. In man pass coverage, the defender is assigned to cover a particular receiver and must cover him no matter where he goes as long as the play is still be a pass play to that receiver. Called man-to-man.

Man Coverage Sacks /Zone Coverage Interceptions – there is a direct correlation to the amount of sacks and interceptions a defense gets to how much man or zone coverage you play. When you are in man coverage, you get more sack opportunities but less interception opportunities. When in zone coverage, you get less sack opportunities, but more interception opportunities.

Man under – see “cover 1”. The word “under” is superfluous. There is no such thing as “man over”.

Maximum protection (Max protect) – having backs and/or tight ends pass block instead of running pass routes. Solution when the number of possible pass rushers exceeds the number of blockers available.

Mike – nickname of defensive linebacker position than starts with M like middle linebacker or monster.

Misdirection play – a type of offensive play that seems to head in one direction, then goes in another. Reverses, traps, and counters are misdirection plays. It can involve faking to one back going one way and giving to another back going another way or may involve change of direction by a back.

Monster – word used by some coaches as the position name for the strong safety or an inside linebacker
More fast than quick – Self-explanatory. Some players take a second to get going, but run very well once they have a little momentum. Quickness usually creates space.

Most dangerous man (MDM) – common blocking assignment. Vague term but may be necessary in some downfield blocking. Should be replaced with a more specific assignment whenever possible, especially in the blocking of defensive linemen and linebackers.

Motor – The way to describe how hard a guy plays. Lawrence Taylor was very explosive, in addition a relentless non-stop motor. This is the ultimate compliment when a guy is referred to as “high motor” guy.

Move the pocket – an offensive play design in which the protection for the passer is located other than the usual area straight behind the center.

Muff – touching the ball by a receive-team member during a failed attempt to catch a kick. It may be recovered, but not advanced, by the kicking team.

Nickel back – defensive back substituted into a game in a passing situation to replace a linebacker thereby resulting in a defense with five rather than the normal four defensive backs.

Nickel package – the whole defense when a nickel back has been substituted for a linebacker.

North-south – perpendicular to the yard lines and toward the goal line. Ball carriers should generally follow a north-south path as much as possible even to the extent of charging through defenders when necessary. Opposite of east-west. A ball carrier who runs north-south is sometimes called a “salmon” after the habit of salmon to swim upstream.

Nose, nose-guard, or nose-tackle – defensive lineman who aligns on the offensive center or in the gap on either side of the center. The presence of a nose of any of the three types means the defense has an “odd” alignment and an odd number of defensive linemen.
Off Man Coverage – man to man coverage where a defender is backed off the line of scrimmage, as opposed to tight bump and run coverage.

On the hoof – Initial impression of a player at first glance.

Open Step – Initial step toward the sideline in the direction the play is going.

Out – a pass route that goes straight upfield then outward toward the sideline. At times the outward route comes slightly back toward the line of scrimmage.

Outside zone play – see zone play

Over – alignment of a player on the other side of the center from where he normally aligns. Usually refers to a cornerback who aligns on the other side of the center because there is no wide receiver on his side and there is more than one wide receiver on the other side or an interior lineman who aligns on the other side of the center thereby creating an unbalanced line.

PBU – Pass break-up

PD – Pass defensed

Package – group of players or formations and plays. Personnel package might be a pass-defense oriented group of players suited to run a nickel/dime pass defense.

Passing tree – a diagram of all of a team’s pass routes along with their names. Necessary to put the wide receiver routes on one page, the tight end routes on another and the running back routes on a third. It is called a “tree” because most routes have a “stem” above which the routes branch out in different directions at different depths. Slight variations between the passing trees of different teams, though there are more similarities than differences

Pattern – group of individual pass routes used in combination during a particular play. A single receiver runs a pass route, but only two or more receivers can run a pass pattern.

Peelback block – block by a receiver who is downfield against a defender who is closer to the line of scrimmage. Usually the play involves a completed pass to a receiver who is less deep than the blocker or a wide running play. The effectiveness of the block is enhanced by the fact that the defender is focused on the ball carrier and does not expect a blocker to come from deeper downfield. Illegal if below the waist. The blocker must take care to avoid blocking the defender in the back.

Penetration – movement by a defender past the offensive line into the offensive backfield. It blows up some plays like the option, traps and counters

Peter – a word yelled out by a coach to a punt receiver to tell him not to touch the punt.

Pick – an illegal offensive pass pattern in which one receiver blocks the defender covering another pass receiver in order to enable that receiver to get open. Also slang for interception.

Plays until he hears glass break – Positive trait. Goes until the play is over and the whistle is blown.

Plays with his pads too high – Loses leverage by playing too upright.

Playing Under Your Pads – good base and weight balance so as to not overextend.

Pluck/Snatch – When a receiver can quickly move his hands into the air and grab a pass.

Play action – a pass play which starts with a fake running play.

Playside – the side of the center to which the ball carrier is going.

POA/ Point of attack – This is the spot of the defense where a running play is supposed to go. A good defensive player will be strong or stout at the POA and hold up the OL or lead blocker, thus causing the RB to alter his route or slow down.

Possession receiver – receiver who is used frequently to gain the third-down yardage needed to get a first down thereby enabling his team to retain possession of the ball for another series.

Post – pass route in which the receiver cuts inside at a 45-degree or smaller angle after a stem of typically eight yards. So-called because the change of direction puts the receiver on a path toward the goal post. Common route for the middle of three deep receivers against cover two.

Post-corner – pass route in which the receiver fakes a post route momentarily before cutting outward at a 45-degree angle toward the corner of the end zone. Previously called post-flag route because the corners of the end zones were marked with flags mounted on springs.

Power play – offensive lead play that attacks the strong-side C gap. Blocking schemes vary according to coach choice and/or alignment of the defense. Also called off-tackle play.

Pre-snap read – visual evaluation of the alignment and personnel of the defense by the QB or other eligible receiver including running backs prior to the snap. The purpose is to make preliminary decisions about where to go or where to throw the football and/or for the QB to call an audible.

Press – same as bump pass coverage

Pressure Points – Four places on the ball that need to be secured:
1.) Outside top of the ball held firmly with the thumb and index finger.
2.) Inside tip help by the 3 other fingers.
3.) Outside panel secured by biceps
4.) Back panel secured by body.

Prevent defense – defense which has an abnormally high number of defensive backs who often align deeper than normal and a fewer number of pass rushers. Usually used late in the half or game by a leading team against an offense that is outside the red zone. It makes sense to get into a bend-don’t-break, defensive configuration that is optimized to stop big plays.

Pro set – an offensive two-back formation with a tight end and flanker on one side of the center and a split end on the other.

Protection (Pro) – blocking for a play that keeps the ball in the offensive backfield for an extended period of time compared to a normal running play.

Pull – movement by an interior offensive lineman in which he steps slightly backward on his first step while turning 90 degrees then runs along the line of scrimmage to block a distant defender.

Pursuit – movement by all defenders either to designated locations or to the ball after a pass has been thrown, a ball carrier has broken contain, or a tackle has been begun. Precise pursuit includes each defender taking correct paths and angles as well as moving at maximum speed. Good pursuit is a manifestation of a disciplined, well-coached team.

QAB – Quickness, Agility, Balance. This is a key term in regard to judging a player’s movement skills. There are a lot of moments in a game when a player has to make awkward movements. Reaching to make a block, tightroping the sideline or changing direction while pursuing a shifty RB. Scouts need to be able to rate a player’s ability to move under these type circumstances.

Quarters – cover 4 pass defense.
Quick receiver – a receiver who aligns on the line of scrimmage or no more than one yard off the line of scrimmage and outside of the offensive line. Backs in the backfield are not quick receivers. All other receivers are quick receivers

Quick side – weak side.

Quick twitch – A positive. Refers to a player who possesses reflexive muscles that make him more explosive and able to react quickly.

Rag dolled – A player that is easily discarded or tossed around.

RS – Return Specialist – Both a KOR and PR
KOR – Kickoff Returner
PR – Punt Returner

Reach – a type of block in which the offensive player tries to get his helmet to the outside hip of the defender in question. Zone play in which the QB hurries to the running back who is running from the tailback position to the outside edge of the offensive line. QB typically has to reach by extending his arms full length to get the ball to the ball carrier in time. This play typically uses reach or tandem blocks by the playside offensive linemen.

Read – action in which a football player watches one or more opponents in order to make a decision on what he should do next. QBs reading defenders in order to tell whom to throw to or whether to throw at all. Defenders reading behavior of offensive players in order to diagnose an offensive play and the QB’s decisions on whether to give the ball to a back, keep it, or pitch it when running the option play.

Read and React – read the keys of a developing play, and diagnose what is about to happen.

Recovery Speed – the ability of a defensive back to quickly close on the ball or opponent.

Reduced front – defensive line alignment where the defensive end and defensive tackle move inward on the weak side compared to where they would line up on the strong side. The defensive end is on the outside shoulder of the weak side offensive tackle and the weak side defensive tackle is in or shaded into the weak side B gap.

Red zone – from the goal line to the 20 yard line on the defending team’s side of midfield, requires change in tactics by both offense and defense because of the inability to run deep pass routes.

Release – a departure of a pass receiver from his pre-snap position to his pass route. Generally not applied unless the defender is in tight, press or bump-and-run pass coverage which means he is trying to prevent or delay the receiver from releasing. Receivers practice release techniques for escaping such defender tactics.

Replacement route – a pass route in which the receiver replaces a particular defender by running to the spot vacated by the defender when he departed to rush the passer.

Reverse – offensive misdirection play in which a ball carrier goes many steps in one direction then hands or pitches the ball to a quick receiver running the opposite direction. Both inside or outside handoffs.

Rhythmic cadence – cadence in which the silence between words and numbers is constant rather than varying. Standard track and swim starting commands “ready, set, go” are a rhythmic cadence. Rhythmic cadence enables the offense to anticipate the start and thereby get an early start and advantage.

Rip – move by a defensive lineman or a receiver trying to escape tight press coverage. Involves ripping up with the arm closest to the blocker or bump pass defender to prevent him from holding or pushing,

Robotic – A term that describes a player who is not fluid in his movements, exposing his intended direction to defenders. The term typically is used to describe a wide receiver who runs stiff routes.

Roger – right, typically used for line calls or check with me to designate an overloading side of the line or which of two plays that can go left or right is to be used.

Roll-out pass – pass “drop” in which the QB runs medium speed backward and outward wide to one side and throws a pass on the run or after setting up. May involve a play-action run fake handoff.

Roll-up corner – cornerback alignment in which the corner has a small cushion vis a vis the receiver.

Route – pass path run by a single receiver. A pass route is distinguished from a pattern which is the combination of the several routes run by all the receivers on a particular play.

Route tree – diagram that shows all of the pass routes a team has and the name or number of each one. So called because it looks like a tree with the various cuts being branches. Some route trees overlay all the team’s pass routes on one sheet of paper. Others separate into three separate route trees for the wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs because each has a different tree.

Rover – used by some coaches as the position name for a linebacker, often the weak-side inside linebacker

Rub – pass route in which one receiver deliberately gets in the way of, but avoids touching, the defender covering a fellow pass receiver. Legal version of the illegal pick play.

Run and shoot – offense that relies on choice or sight-adjustment passes. Receiver breaks away from defender after reading defender’s initial movement while QB sees the same movement by the defender and anticipates which way the receiver will break from practice experience. Neither receiver nor QB know before the play starts which way the receiver will break. Invented by Glenn Ellison and/or Mouse Davis.

Run-pass option – offensive play in which QB or other ball carrier rolls out to the side and has the option to run or pass the ball on the run.

Run through – lateral movement by a linebacker who changes direction and runs through a gap in the offensive line in an attempt to tackle a ball carrier in the backfield for a loss.

Run To Daylight – Directive to run to where the defenders are not.

Run Behind Pads – runs with good form, base and balance without overextending.

Run-and-chase player – Defender who is at his best pursuing ball carriers from the back side of the field.

Rush end – defensive end whose main job is to rush the passer.

Scrape and Sift – The way a linebacker avoids blockers, as opposed to taking them on.

Screen Passes – work better vs. zone coverage because vs. man coverage there is a guy assigned to the RB or WR to see him leaking out for the screen pass.

Safety valve – pass route typically for a running back in which he moves to a spot near the QB in case the passer cannot find a receiver in a more desirable location to throw to.

Salmon – a ball carrier who “swims upstream,” same as a north-south runner.

Sam – nickname for positions starting with the letter S like strong-side inside or outside linebacker or strong safety.

Scat – pass protection in which a running back is assigned to block one possible rushing linebacker or safety and another potential rushing linebacker or safety is dealt with via a hot pass if he also rushes. Also used in the phrase scat back to describe a small, quick running back.

Scheme – offense, defense, and special teams play books.

Scoop – block by an offensive lineman on a linebacker pursuing from the backside. Because the linebacker is moving laterally upfield from the lineman, he must lead the defender, that is, go to a spot ahead of the linebacker as one would lead a skeet in skeet shooting.

Scout report – written analysis of video of upcoming opponent’s recent games, reverse engineering of upcoming opponent’s play books plus identification of tipoffs, strengths and weaknesses of opposing personnel, opponent tendencies. A team’s weekly game plan is based on the scout report for the game.

Scout team – players on your team who pretend to be the upcoming opponent during the week of practice before playing that team. They align in the formations of the upcoming opponent and run the opponent’s offensive, defensive, and special teams plays they derive from the scouting report.

Scramble – QB running with the ball after first trying to pass. Usually impromptu but may be planned in the case of a QB who is a very good runner.

Scramble block – same as crab block

Scramble drill – pass routes that receivers are assigned to run when the QB cannot throw on time and must scramble behind the line of scrimmage.

Scrape – lateral movement by a linebacker in pursuit of a running play.

Screen pass – pass that does not cross the line of scrimmage. “Screen” refers to a line of offensive line blockers who deliberately let defensive players through then form in front of receiver to lead him downfield. Deceptively hard to throw and must be practiced against air because your own scout team will become too good at recognizing it.

Scrimmage down – down that begins with a snap and the defense permitted to be on the edge of the neutral zone.

Seal – generally refers to an offensive lineman getting in the way of a linebacker who wants to pursue a wide play laterally.

Seam – a border between two pass defense zones. Pass route, usually for a tight end or back out of the backfield, in which the receiver runs upfield along the seam between a cover-3 free safety and corner.

Second level – the second level of the defense starting with the defensive line (first level), the linebackers (second level) and the defensive backs (third level).

Sees ghosts – A term used to describe a QB who imagines pressure that doesn’t really exist. This is also referred to as displaying a lack of poise.

Self-scouting – analyzing your own team as you would an opponent looking for tendencies and weaknesses.

Separation – receiver getting away from a defender who is trying to cover him.

Set – To hold still in your final pre-snap stance. Offensive or defensive formation.

Setting the Edge – defender’s ability to set his feet in the ground, sink his hips and anchor vs the run.

Set recognition – defense team drill in which a scout offense aligns in the formations of the upcoming opponent and the defense practices aligning correctly against the scout offense formations. Includes shifts and motion where the upcoming opponent employs those tactics. The scout offense runs no plays, just formations, shifts, and motions.

Settle – a receiver slowing down or stopping at the seam in a zone pass defense. Also called throttle down.

Seven-man front – a defensive formation that has seven defenders in the box. Typically a 4-3 or 3-4 set.

Shade – an alignment by a defensive player in which his nose is lined up with something other than the gap between offensive linemen or the noses of offensive linemen.

Shift – change in alignment by any offensive player or players who did not have at least one hand on the ground. All offensive players must be set for one second after the shift before the ball can be snapped.

Short field – possession of the ball in the opponent’s half of the field.

Short side – the side of the offensive formation where the distance from the ball (before the snap) to the sideline is shortest. Also known as the boundary.

Short trap – a trap play in which the pulling trap blocker passes only one of his teammate interior linemen enroute to his blocking target.

Shotgun – a type of snap in which the center snaps the ball several yards back on a lob trajectory without looking at the snap target as he does it. His head is up as with a QB-under-center snap so he can see the defender he needs to block.

Shovel pass – very short forward pass usually to a receiver who is still in the offensive backfield and moving sideways

Shuffle – moving laterally by sliding the foot on the side the player is going outward then bringing the other foot close to that foot without crossing the legs. Used by linebackers and sometimes defensive backs to move laterally because it allows them to change direction quickly if necessary. One or Two lateral steps in the backfield, usually before an interior run, that puts the back in better position to receive the handoff and attack the hole perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.

Shuffle/ Shuffle pass – misspelling or more accurately, a malapropism, of shovel pass. The word “shuffle” sounds like “shovel,” but you have to not think about the source of the word to confuse the two. Shovel bears resemblance to the movement involved in the pass. Shuffle, which means to move sideways without crossing your ankles, has no resemblance to the shovel pass play.

Skeleton – competitive passing drill using no interior linemen and possibly fewer than five eligible receivers. Most common skelly format is 7-on-7 drills.

Skinny post – post pass route where the angle of the cut is significantly less than 45 degrees.

Sky – zone pass coverage in which safeties cover passes to the flat. Both safety and sky start with the letter S. Opposite of cloud coverage which has the corner cover the flat.

Slant – a pass route in which the receiver goes inward at a 45-degree angle, usually after a short stem, typically, three steps. Diagonal charge path taken by a defensive lineman or linebacker.

Slide – pass protection in which the offensive linemen step in the same direction and the running back goes in the opposite direction and blocks at the other end of the line.

Slip Screen – A quick developing screen pass in which the back runs to a point on the line of scrimmage vacated by a pass rushing end or outside linebacker, then turns to receive a pass, then cuts upfield.

Slow Screen – Traditional screen pass in which the back sets as if he is pass blocking, then drifts to a spot behind a wall of blockers.

Slot – area between the interior offensive line and the wide receiver.

Sluggo – slant and go pass route.

Smash – compliance pass pattern sometimes erroneously called a route. Series of shotgun formation diagrams that has one to three wide receivers on each side of the formation and showed patterns in which the widest receivers generally ran hitches, the second-widest receivers generally ran in a little, then straight upfield, then outward, and the number three receiver from the outside in, usually a back, ran shallow route across the middle.

Spearing – using the top of the helmet as a battering ram when blocking or tackling. Illegal and extremely dangerous to the player who does it.

Speed cut – 90-degree turn by a receiver using two 45-degree step. So called because the receiver can make the turn faster using two 45-degree steps than he can using one 90-degree step.

Split – short for line split. Also distance between a wide receiver and the nearest interior lineman or tight end.

Split backs – offensive formation with two backs aligned behind the guards or tackles at a depth of about four yards, characteristic of the veer triple-option offense. Often a tipoff that a drop-back pass play is coming when employed by non-veer-option teams.

Split end – a quick receiver who aligns on the end of the line of scrimmage on the weak side of the offensive formation and away from the interior line.

Split Side – wide side of the field. Also known and the field side.

Spread – precise term that seems to refer to one-back or no-back offenses accompanied by the use of the shotgun snap and no tight end. Usually involves three or four receivers.

Spread-option – spread with use of the option running play added.

Sprint draw – trick play in which the QB sprints out to one side. Running back stands motionless with his dominant hand behind his back and as the QB passes the back, he slips the ball into the back’s hand. After remaining for a one count, the back takes off running away from the direction of the QB.

Sprint-out pass – pass “drop” in which the QB runs fast backward and outward (bellies back) wide to one side of the and throws a pass on the run.

Spy – defender who is assigned to cover one offensive player, often a QB who likes to run with the ball.

Stacked Alignment – defensive alignment where a linebacker plays directly behind a defensive lineman.
Also a wide receivers aligned one directly behind the other.

Stalk block – open field, above-the-waist block usually made by wide receivers on defensive backs.

Stay Square – stay in front of an opponent.

Stem – Initial portion of a pass route in which the receiver runs straight upfield before cutting. During the stem, the receiver tries to make the defender think he is running a streak route.
Straight Line Player – runs well in straight line, though struggles to change directions.

Streak – Pass route in which the receiver runs straight upfield from his pre-snap position. Sometimes called a go route or fly route. Also a #9 route.

Stretch – Running play most strongly associated with modern zone blocking offenses. The ball carrier takes a course slanting toward the sideline while reading blocks and choosing to plunge straight into a designated gap, then turn inside, where defenders are often out of position or bounce it outside in search of more running room.

Strong – some coaches use this word to describe an offensive backfield alignment in which the fullback aligns offset to the strong side typically behind the strong guard or strong tackle or B gap.

Strong side – usually the side with the tight end in a pro offensive set. Some coaches define the strong side differently against other types of offensive formations, the side with the most quick receivers. If the offensive formation has two tight ends or no tight ends, double slot or ace, coaches often refer to the field or wide side as the strong side. If the offensive formation is balanced and in the middle hash position so that there is no field side, most coaches designate the offense’s right-hand side as the strong side on the grounds that most people are right-handed and therefore prefer to execute football plays to their right.

Stud – a very good football player who looks like a football player is supposed to be.

Stunt – defensive rush that takes an unusual path or has unusual timing.

Support – run defense by defensive backs.

Sweep – offensive play that goes deep in the offensive backfield in the case of the toss or pitch sweep or shallow in the offensive backfield in the case of a fake-dive handoff sweep.

Swim move – A pass-rushing technique in which a defender uses an arm-over maneuver (resembling a freestyle swimming stroke) to get past a blocker at the line of scrimmage. Involves swinging the arm closest to the opponent downward to prevent the blocker from holding or pushing the player.

Swing – running back pass route in which the back loops out and away from the line before turning toward the line of scrimmage at which time the pass is thrown to him. Often done as a check off route, that is, the running back checks for a blitz by his assigned protection blocking target then runs a swing route if his man does not blitz.

Switch – defensive end and outside defensive back swtich responsibilities when slotback, flanker, or split end cracks back on defensive end preventing him from fulfilling his contain responsibilities. Defensive end then covers the crack back blocker in case he goes out for a delayed release pass and defender who was covering the crack back blocker takes over contain responsibilities.

Tampa 2 Defense – two deep coverage with the subtle difference being the depth in which the mike linebacker has to get on coverage to create almost a cover 3 look. Monte Kiffin is credited as the inventor. Kiffin actually plays lots of man coverage on first and second down. He plays mostly Tampa 2 looks on third downs, especially on third and long. He also likes to run lots of corner blitz looks.

Tandem – combination of a defensive lineman and a linebacker stacked behind him.

Tandem block – block by two offensive linemen in which they initially double-team a defender toward the play side, then, depending upon the behavior of a linebacker behind the defender they are blocking, one of them leaves the double-team block and goes upfield to block the linebacker leaving the other member of the double-team block to block the defensive lineman alone.

Tendency – a habit of running a certain play or defense more than 50% of the time in certain situations. Teams study opponents’ down-and-distance and formation tendencies and when they find a correlation between a situation or formation, they teach it to their players and coaches and respond accordingly in the game plan and in the game. The opposite of tendencies would be random selection of plays and defenses. Always using the same offensive formation eliminates any formation tendencies.

Third level – defensive backs area of the field.

Three Technique – defensive lineman who lines up on the outside shade of the guard (in the B gap) and is considered to be the centerpiece of a 4-3 defense. The ideal 3 technique defender is very quick and possesses better than 4.95 speed and able to penetrate through one gap. Also known as an under tackle.

TFL – tackle-for-loss

Throttle down – Same as settle.

Tip off – behavior by a team on the field or on its sideline that indicates a greater-than-50% probability that a particular play is about to be run. It can include substitutions, alignment of one or more players, where a player looks when he hears the play, body language leaving the huddle.

TRF /Transfer – players who transfer from one college to another.

Trail – when a running play goes toward the D gap on one side of the offense, one defender on the back side of the play must trail it in case the play is a reverse. The job usually goes to the backside contain man. Sometimes, the trail man follows the ball carrier while looking for another prospective ball carrier coming at the first to receive a handoff or pitch. Simply having the trail man “stay home,” that is, remain in place while looking for a reverse play coming back toward him. The trail man’s job is to stop the reverse

Trap – block or play involving such a block on the outside of the point of attack in which the blocker is a lineman who pulls out of the line on the snap and blocks his target lineman outward from the inside.

T-Rex Arms – receiver arms configured like those of a tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur, that is, with the elbows bent less than 90 degrees and held close to the body. Criticism aimed at a receiver who should have extended his arms fully to catch a ball within his reach but who kept his elbows near his body to protect himself against an expected collision with a defender. T-rex arms cause the receiver not to catch a catchable pass. Same as ‘Alligator arms’.

Trey – three receivers on one side when used to describe a formation. Typically, a team will use trey to refer to one type of three-receivers-on-one-side formation and trips to refer to a different such formation.

Triangle numbers – Size, speed and strength.

Trips – offensive pass formation in which there are three quick receivers on one side, usually a tight end, a slot back, and a flanker on the strong side.

Twins – offensive formation in which the weak side has a split end and a slot back.

Twist – defensive line stunt. The defensive equivalent of the offensive cross block. Used to confuse offensive lineman as to whom they are to block or to make it harder for them to block their assigned man.

Two-way go – excusing an outside pass rusher from contain duties thereby allowing him to choose whether he wants to take an outside or an inside path against the blocker trying to stop him. Typically only done when the QB is a lousy scrambler.

Tweener – A player that falls between two NFL positions in a gray area, such as either a defensive end or outside linebacker, defensive end or tackle, corner/safety due to size, speed and scheme factors.

Two Deep Coverage – zone coverage where each safety is responsible for half of the deep portion of the field. This requires a safety to have a lot of range being able to cover receivers to the deep outside.
Two Gap – refers to the ability of a defensive lineman to cover two gaps in the offensive line.

UDFA – Undrafted free agent.

Umbrella defense – pass defense originated in 1950 by New York Giant defensive coordinator Tom Landry. Defensive ends had the option of dropping into pass zones

Upback (U) – offensive back who aligns just behind the A gap in a spread punt formation or offensive back who aligns just behind the interior offensive line in a single wing formation.

Vertical stretch – offensive receiver or decoy who runs a deep pass route to force a defender to cover that area of the field.

Vision – ball carrier ability to see daylight and cut to it, as opposed to tunnel vision. Runners who lack vision run into piles of players when there was an open running lane on either or both sides of the pile. This is either because of tunnel vision or inability to cut sharply enough to go to the open lane.

Waist-bender – Offensive lineman who doesn’t bend his knees when engaging defenders which limits his balance, strength and makes him more susceptible to counter moves. Loses leverage easily.

Walkaway – defensive alignment in which the defender is at a 45-degree angle inside a wide or slot receiver. Used to prevent the receiver from running a quick slant or look-in pass route.

Wall blocking – the best blocking scheme for them is to try to stay in place with zero or very tight line splits and block the area where they stand regardless of whether any defender tries to come there.

Wall off/ Seals blocks – to use body to create a wall so the defenders can not penetrate lanes.

Weak – some coaches use this word to describe an offensive backfield alignment in which the fullback aligns offset to the weak side typically behind the weak guard or weak tackle or weak B gap.

Weak side – usually the side away from the tight end in a pro offensive set

West Coast Offense – horizontal passing game, shorter pass routes with less vertical shots downfield. Easier passes to throw and complete. Using the short pass as an extension of the running game.

Wheel route – running back runs sideways out of the backfield then runs straight up the sideline deep. The connection between the sideways and straight-up-the-sideline legs is in the shape of a quarter circle.

Wide pursuit – pursuit by all defenders of a ball carrier who has broken contain and gotten outside the hash position of the tight end on the play side. The backside contain man is assigned to trail the ball carrier looking for a possible reverse. Most defenders are assigned to get outside the runner taking angles appropriate to their speed and position. Other defenders are assigned to pursue the ball carrier from the inside so as to prevent his cutting back “against the grain” move.

Wide side – the side of the offensive formation where the distance from the ball (before the snap) to the sideline is greatest, also known as “the field”.

Will – weakside linebacker

Wing – offensive back who is one yard off the line of scrimmage and one yard outside the nearest interior offensive lineman or tight end to his inside.

Work the Edges – when a defensive lineman works the fringes instead of attacking a blocker straight ahead.

Wired to blocks – when a defender cannot disengage from an opposing block.
Wrong shoulder – block-shedding technique in which the blocking target hits the blocker with the shoulder on the side away from where the blocker is coming. This necessitates turning to face the blocker if he is a pulling lineman. Many coaches do not allow this technique.

X – one of the quick receivers, most often used as the name of the split end but sometimes the tight end.

Y – one of the quick receivers, most often used as the name of the tight end.

Yards after catch – yards gained by a receiver between where he caught a pass and where he was tackled, went out of bounds, or scored a touchdown.

Z – one of the quick receivers, most often used as the name of the flanker.

Zone blitz – “blitz” in which a defensive lineman drops back into zone pass defense instead of rushing. In contrast to normal blitz which requires the defense to be in a man pass defense because there are not enough defenders who are not rushing to cover all the necessary zones. In a sense, a zone blitz is not a blitz because instead of increasing the number of rushers as is normal with a blitz, only the position of the rushers is changed. One of the defensive linemen does not rush but drops into a short zone instead and a linebacker or back rushes in his place. Requires an agile quick lineman who can also play pass defense.

Zone blocking – offensive line blocking scheme described below under zone play. Not to be confused with area blocking, although many coaches do just that by using the phrase zone blocking to mean the same as area blocking, probably because zone blocking was an interchangeable phrase with area blocking prior to the invention of the zone play.

Zone play – Extremely common, relatively new, one-back offensive play type in the 1990s and 2000s at the college and pro levels. Typically consists of two plays: inside zone that is sometimes called belly and outside zone sometimes called stretch. All linemen take their first step to the play side trying to reach the defensive linemen. This typically results in two or more double-team blocks. During the block, one member of each double team is to abandon the double-team block and block a linebacker. The member of the double-team does that is a function of the success each member of the double team is having with the defensive lineman. Basically, the defensive lineman must be blocked first and it is to be done by whichever of the two offensive linemen double-teaming him can get the job done as determined by the position he has achieved in relation to the defensive lineman as the play unfolds. Then the unneeded offensive lineman goes up to block whichever linebacker he can. In the outside zone play, the offensive lineman who blocks a linebacker blocks the next linebacker to his inside from the outside in. In the inside zone play, he blocks the first linebacker on or outside him inside out. This offensive-line blocking scheme is very similar to the tandem or combo block except that in those blocks, it is preordained that the inside offensive lineman will end up blocking the defensive lineman and the outside offensive lineman will end up blocking a particular linebacker. The zone-play blocking is more fluid and who blocks whom is determined during the play according to who can get the defensive lineman in question and which linebacker the remaining offensive linemen have good blocking angles on. The ball carrier has a different, more inside landmark to run towards in the inside zone from the outside zone. The running back is to run “slow to the hole and fast through the hole.” That is because he is to read the blocks of the offensive linemen on the linemen and linebackers and cut to daylight wherever it is. In the inside zone play, a cutback to the other side is likely and there is no pre-designated point of attack to run to. The point of attack is chosen by the ball carrier based on what he sees as the play unfolds. This requires a ball carrier with vision and linemen who can work together. The theory of the play is that the defense is generally aligned in a sound defense before the snap, but that if the entire offense starts running to one side or the other, the defensive alignment will break down, thereby opening up running lanes. The offensive linemen are to block whom they can the direction they can and the running back is to see the resulting lane and run through it.

   Frank Coyle has published Draft Insiders’ Digest for 27 years
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